Photo Credit: A+Z Collection
Inside A+Z Collection: The Affordable Black Women-Owned Luxury Resort Wear Brand
Atlanta-based A+Z Collection is a Black women-owned online resort wear boutique that provides affordable luxury vacation wear that can be worn on the beach or at dinner. The company is owned by sisters-in-law Ashley Billings and Zoe Baker, and officially launched in May 2021.
In an interview with Travel Noire, Billings shared the motivation for her and Baker to create the company, as well as the highs and lows of working to keep the online brand moving as Black women entrepreneurs.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to launch the company?
Ashley Billings: 2021 made us literally be still, and yet it forced many of us to think and move differently. It made us ask, ‘what could we bring to the table?’ We became more conscientious about supporting Black-owned businesses, and we wanted to be a part of the change that was unfolding in front of us. Also, we are both moms with hectic lives, but we LOVE to travel and have a passion for fashion— especially resort wear that could be worn to the beach but also brunch or dinner. We noticed that when it was time to travel during the fall-winter months, it was hard to find fabulous resort wear that didn’t have a ridiculously high price tag.
TN: What does A+Z Collections offer?
Ashley Billings: Our online resort wear boutique offers pieces that are a mixture of brands hand-selected by us or specially designed for us (A+Z Exclusives). It was also very important for us to have many One size fits most options as well as having our models be women of color with curves.
TN: What makes A+Z Collection stand out from the rest?
Ashley Billings: People travel all year round, not just in the summer months. Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of brands that capitalize off this, especially women and Black-owned. Zoe and I wanted luxury pieces but affordability and versatility.
TN: Have you seen support from the Black community?
Ashley Billings: Yes! We have a huge Black community of followers and customers. We obviously travel and love to look fabulous while doing it. The support is so amazing, and we are just getting started.
TN: As Black Women who own a business, what have been some of your struggles?
Ashley Billings: Struggles are part of the course when it comes to entrepreneurship, no matter what. Financing is always at the top of the list because you want to make things happen right away, but it’s not that simple. Also, knowing where to find the resources for money, manufacturing, marketing etc. There’s honestly no step-by-step formula. We want to evolve and continue to create beautiful pieces for the quintessential traveling women.
TN: Can you offer advice for other Black women who are thinking about opening a business?
Ashley Billings: It’s easy to launch but hard to keep the momentum going. There are so many moving parts to this business and a lot of competition, but you can’t get in your head about it, or you’ll get stuck. Never be afraid to ask for help. Call on your friends and family to help support your dream. We wouldn’t be this far without our amazing support system. I quit my job just recently to focus on growing our business. It’s very scary to step out on faith and there are no days off, but the blood, sweat and tears is worth it because we get to define our own version of happiness and success.
You can learn more about the resort wear brand by visiting the website: www.shopazcollection.com.